Anglican Samizdat

September 2, 2009

Irritating English

Filed under: English — David Jenkins @ 12:07 am

The most irritating phrases in the English language:

There are those who wince and curse whenever a TV pundit or sports spieler speaks the familiar words, “at the end of the day.” This usually announces that what follows will be empty of meaning. Even when the pundit has something of consequence to say, those six words anaesthetize the listener, encouraging them to miss the point. No wonder Jeremy Butterfield’s book, Damp Squid: The English Language Laid Bare (Oxford University Press), places “at the end of the day” right at the head of the “Top 10 Most Irritating Expressions in the English Language.”

Here is a selection of phrases that irritate me; large companies are fecund breeding grounds for such stinkers:

On a daily basis – what’s wrong with “every day”?

In a timely manner – pretentious way of saying “on time”

Failure is not an option – oh dear, I was going to choose it

Mission statement – cue for meaningless drivel

Vision statement – cue for more meaningless drivel

Think outside the box – cue for mental vacuity

Proactive – an energetic lady of the night

Go forward position – head pointing in same direction as feet

Audit ready posture – bent over

Executive summary – a series of clichés intended to pacify illiterate Vice Presidents

Pursuit of excellence – thank you, Michael Bird


August 18, 2009

Grammar Vandal

Filed under: English — David Jenkins @ 9:22 am

A Don Quixote for the age of Twitter:Add an Image

With his trusty paintbrush, Stefan Gatward has been flying the flag for the English language.

Dressed in a collar, tie and well-polished shoes, the former soldier has been fixing missed apostrophes on grammatically incorrect street signs in Tunbridge Wells.

Reaction on the street was mixed – one neighbour offered him praise, but another, also a soldier, took offence.

Mr Gatward said: ‘He asked me what I was doing and told me I was wrong. He called me a vandal and a graffiti artist.

‘He tried to tell me that the post office would not deliver to the street if you put an apostrophe on the address.’

July 2, 2009

Bureaucratic English

Filed under: English — David Jenkins @ 11:38 am

The Association of Chief Police Officers in the UK has written a report containing a 102 word sentence that defies all efforts to pry meaning from it:

‘The promise of reform which the Green Paper heralds holds much for the public and Service alike; local policing, customised to local need with authentic answerability, strengthened accountabilities at force level through reforms to police authorities and HMIC, performance management at the service of localities with targets and plans tailored to local needs, the end of centrally-engineered one size fits all initiatives, an intelligent approach to cutting red tape through redesign of processes and cultures, a renewed emphasis on strategic development so as to better equip our service to meet the amorphous challenges of managing cross force harms, risks and opportunities.’

My favourite part is: “a renewed emphasis on strategic development so as to better equip our service to meet the amorphous challenges of managing cross force harms, risks and opportunities.” A phrase of concentrated impenetrability, garnished with the inevitable split infinitive.

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